“Islands, Whales & Leaping Lemurs”

June 9-19, 2023                  Small group of 18

Price listed below the daily itinerary

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Islands, lemurs and whales, oh my… We’re mad about Mada! Magical Madagascar is truly the world’s most weirdly wonderful destination. Exotic species, postcard-perfect tropical beaches abound and underwater landscapes are pure heaven. Past AFS groups have gushed over their experiences here and our new itinerary covers even more adventures of one of the most unique and beautiful countries you’ll ever hope to visit.

 You’ll be going off the beaten track on a new level with sights and unimaginable creatures you can’t find anywhere else. An Indian Ocean eco-paradise, Madagascar is home to 5% of the earth’s flora and fauna, 80% of which are unique to this place which the 4th largest island in the world. There’s 40 crazy colorful chameleon species here and over 50 species of lemurs.  Nothing beats watching the fearless bug-eyed primates sail through the rainforest like ballerinas while screeching like a police siren. Yes, you’ll even be able to hold one! This is a sanctuary to nature’s strangest creatures, from elephant birds to tomato frogs to blue geckos and hissing insects. And those are just some found on land along with incredible marine life at sea. We’ll be there in June, the best time to go when Humpback whales are at the height of migration!

 After touring the capital of Antananarivo we head west. Our exotic adventure starts in captivating Andasibe Forest, rich in biodiversity with a rainbow array of butterflies, chameleons, and lemurs. We will be surrounded in the purest nature marvels while staying in a hilltop lodge in the heart of the dense rainforest. Then we fly north to our luxury oceanfront resort in Nosy-Be on the Mozambique Channel. There’s a reason why Mada is now one of the most popular tour destinations, so we secured rooms long ago at the coveted Ravintsara Wellness Resort. We’ll catamaran through azure waters teaming with marine life. You’ll be mesmerized watching the rays, whales, sharks, coral and turtles. By catamaran and dhow, we island hop to discover the surrounding atolls with stops to enjoy snorkeling, diving or fishing – or choose to hike the lush surroundings. Madagascar’s isolated location creates a colorful dive into an authentic  cultural melting pot with unique landscapes ranging from verdant rainforests to baobabs and desert.

This is a Bragging Rights vacation. Who else do you know who can say they’ve been to magical Madagascar? Enjoy 9 glorious days of large fun in rain forests and pristine seas. This is a small group of only 18 lucky participants at a great price with most meals included. Come join us to explore Natures Sanctuary as we explore a part of the world truly that almost defies description. Like the movie says, Let’s move it, move it, move it!

Map of Madagascar. Detail from the World Map.

Our Glorious AFS Itinerary

” Suzy, I can sum this trip up in one word… Fabulous! I loved the small group size and wonderful local guides. As a poor country, at times I was challenged outside my comfort zone but it was all worth it. I laughed so hard watching the lemurs’ jump person to person. Thank you for showing us this unique destination.” Faith B.

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Click for printable PDF itinerary (Madagascar)

June 9 or 10 –  Fly USA to Antananarivo, Madagascar via Johannesburg or Paris or other gateways. Air details coming later in trip tips. Consider breaking up your long journey with a pre-or post-option to add another fun destination.

 

June 11 – Antananarivo                  Land begins

Welcome to Tana! Antananarivo is Madagascar’s largest city and we’ll have great views of it from our hillside home, Palissandre Hotel & Spa, located in the heart of the city. We’ll  head there directly from the airport to settle in.  Take a dip in the pool or relax and prepare for our welcome dinner with local entertainment in the evening to get to know our fellow travel lovers.

Overnight: Palissandre Hotel & Spa (1 night) D   

www.hotel-palissandre.com   Located on the slope of the hillside in the heart of the city. Exotic but elegantly decorated, each of the 46 air-conditioned rooms has its own electronic safe, Television with local and international channels, wifi, minibar, bathroom and hair dryer. A swimming pool is at your disposal.

June 12 – Antananarivo to Andasibe

After a leisurely breakfast at the hotel, we’ll meet our guide then drive east towards Périnet National Park, traveling across the highlands and into the indigenous forest region. We’ll stop for lunch along the way and reach Mantadia Lodge by early afternoon. Perched high on a hill, Mantadia offers panoramic views of the forest in a natural setting.  Check into our jungle lodge

In late afternoon, we’ll head out on a guided 2-hour evening walk through a community-run reserve to spot the nocturnal animals in their natural habitat. Be prepared to see the smallest species of lemurs, chameleons, frogs and enjoy the music of the forest with the creatures’ night sounds, it’s loud!  Dinner is back at the lodge.

 

Overnight: Mantadia Lodge (2 nights) B, L, D    Mantadia Lodge received its first clients on the 10th of March 2018. It is located on a hill 100 meters high which gives a panoramic view of the forest. There are 25 rooms. All of them provide the comfort of a 3-star hotel, and are equipped with WiFi, cable TV and a terrace that offers a panoramic view, an inside living room and a wood-burning stove for the cooler season.

June 13 – Andasibe National Park

Today, we discover the protected forests of Andasibe and meet numerous species of lemurs. The park provides a habitat for numerous rare and/or endemic species of rainforest, offering remarkable biodiversity. Keep eyes out for the largest lemur, the Indri Indri, and it has fascinating family group behavior. Our expert guide will tell us all about its customs and what makes them so unusual. My favorite is the Aye-Aye (Daubentonia Madagascariensis) an endemic nocturnal lemur that is the most strange and archaic of all species. Other species living in the forest are bamboo lemur (Hapalemur Griseus) and woolly lemur (Avahi Laniger). You’ll be fascinated by the flora here which includes many medicinal plants. We return to the lodge for lunch.

The rest of the day is free to take advantage of Mantadia’s spa or pool overlooking the forest. Dinner is included at the hotel.  Overnight: Mantadia Lodge (2 nights). B, L, D

June 14 – Andasibe  to Antananarivo

Before we head back to Tana, we will board boats to visit Lemur Island belonging to the lodge, with habituated lemur species including the Bamboo Lemur, Black and White Ruffed Lemur, Brown Lemur and Diademed Sifaka. You’ll have a great Instagramable moment as a lemur (or two) hops on your shoulder and gives a bug-eyed look at the camera! The reserve also has crocodiles sunbathing on the grass.

We drive back to Tana, stopping for a local lunch along the way. Time permitting, we will visit the delightful Lemur Adventure Park. There are nine species on this private reserve. At present, around 50 free range lemurs roam around for delightful photos.  Dinner is again included at the hotel.

Overnight: Palissandre Hotel & Spa (1 night) B, L, D

June 15 – Antananarivo, Flight to Nosy-Be

After breakfast, it is off to the airport for a flight to the island of Nosy-Be and our luxurious Ravintsara Wellness Hotel. Surrounded by tropical gardens and oceanfront beaches, you’ll be able to kick back and enjoy your free afternoon in this stunning property with so many activities to choose.

Lunch is included in our program, but the schedule is dependent on flights. Dinner is included at the hotel at its renown Oceana Garden restaurant.

Overnight: Ravintsara Wellness (3 nights). B, L, D

AVINTSARA WELLNESS is a resort born from the harmonious encounter of nature and luxury. Located only 35 minutes away from Nosy-be airport (Fascene) and 20 minutes away from the city center (Hell Ville). The resort is facing Sakatia island on the west coast overlooking spectacular sunsets with shimmering colors. Ravintsara Wellness Resort welcomes guests in our peaceful and relaxing five-hectare tropical garden which offers a unique and immersive experience of well-being amidst nature’s sounds and smells. Our spacious and luxurious bungalows offer the finest sophistication and comfort. With its extraordinary setting and its wide range of facilities. Ravintsara Wellness Resort offers a luxurious break in the middle of nature.

June 16 – Day excursion to Nosy Komba

 After breakfast, we’ll spend our day exploring the islands and surrounding waters by our private catamaran. Our first stop is Nosy Komba, the 2nd biggest island after Nosy-Be. We’ll visit the island’s Lemur Park and the fishermen village with their traditional boats. We’ll also have time to take in the local market with their incredible table clothes, colorful stalls and smiling faces.

We’ll have lunch aboard our catamarans and then head to Nosy Tanikely, a protected marine natural reserve. Snorkeling equipment is all we need to dive into a real life-size aquarium. A few steps from the beach, we can see all kinds of corals, anemones, multicolored fish, shellfish, and if we are lucky, we’ll see turtles. We’ll spend the afternoon swimming or strolling to the lighthouse to see giant bats and lemurs, lizards, chameleons and butterflies.

Overnight: Ravintsara Wellness  B, L, D

June 17 – Day at leisure in Nosy Be and Farewell Dinner

 Today is free to relax at the resort or take advantage of the numerous activities available both inland and at sea. You can choose to swim with the turtles in Nosy Sakatia, relax by the white sand beach of Iranja, encounter more lemurs at the lemur island, or hike to the highest peak of Nosy-Be for an amazing sunset.  Just make sure you have enough time for our not-to-be-missed farewell dinner.

Optional activities: (check with resort for prices – range around $60 to $80)

  • Day excursion to the paradise island of Nosy Iranja – Nosy Iranja is situated 1 hour and 30 minutes from Nosy Be by speed boat. These two islands are connected by a fine white sandbank, covered in high tide and discovered in low tide. It is a paradisiacal island with its turquoise blue colors, white paradise, and green nature. Turtles still lay their eggs there, hence its name “Turtle Island”. Various type of birds can be seen including terns, herons and sometimes maritime eagles too.  Lunch buffet is served under the shade of coconut trees (crabs, grilled fish, beef stew, shrimps, coconut rice, salads, and tropical fruits).  Visit of the lighthouse and the authentic village of Iranja Be.  En route , discover the coast of Madagascar and kilometers of bare beaches, the “sugar loaf” (big rocky mass of rocks halfway) and Nosy Antsoa, an island still totally authentic, worthy of Robinson Crusoe.

  •  Day excursion to Nosy Sakatia or the Island of orchids –  Morning discovery, afternoon relax…. Nosy Sakatia is the most authentic island of Nosy Be (protected and classified by the Ministry of the Environment). Accompanied by a local guide, discover the inside of the island during a 1 ½ hrs trek: blazing flamboyant plants, coffee trees, pepper pots, vanilla, tree of the “traveler”, pineapple, anacardier, mangos, jacques, guava, eucalyptus, raphia, orchids, healing plants, etc… Everything is here !!!  Explore the culture and traditional activities of the ethnic Malagasy. The fishermen and craftsman invite you to share their lives with the rhythm of a generous and respected nature.  You will finish your journey on a private and beautiful beach- a real piece of paradise and tranquillity. Lunch on the beach, snorkeling, kayaks and beach games are at your disposal.
  • Day excursion to Lokobe reserve and Immersion in the primary forest. Lokobe is the last primary forest of Nosy Be, with its numerous medicinal and endemic plants and its millennium trees. It is a Protected area which attracts many scientists every year. Let your guide take you through this well-preserved universe, looking for nocturnal and diurnal lemurs (Macaco and Lepilemurs), reptiles, chameleons, insects, and tropical birds.  Transfer by road to the fishermen’s village of Ambatozavavy in the south of the island, from where you’ll embark on a traditional boat rowing along the mangrove swamp up to the reserve. Your specialist guide invites you to discover the lively treasures of his reserve and will teach you its secrets and its legends.
  •  Tour of Nosy Be, the perfume island East to West Visit the village of Dzamandzar, the sugar factory which still stands as a landmark and the sculptor.  Tour of Hell Ville (capital of Nosy-Be), its covered market with spices, crabs, tropical fruits, its colonial buildings, and its tablecloth market. Quick visit to the harbour and free time for shopping.  Departure to discover an authentic sacred tree (Banyan millennium). On the road we will be perfumed by the flowers of coffee, of pepper, fruit trees, and above all “Ylang Ylang”.  Lunch in an eco-lodge in the heart of Nosy-Be. After lunch, several options: you can visit the botanical course, the waterfall, the Malagasy Ylang Ylang factory, or relax and admire the beautiful view from the restaurant.  We will continue to Mountain Passot, the highest point of Nosy-Be where we can admire a fabulous sunset with a 360-degree view over the island.

By 6.00pm, we meet at the reception of the hotel and we’ll sail to our private island of Ambaliha for a 15-minute motored dhow pirogue from Ravintsara to our farewell dinner. The evening includes welcome drinks, local folk entertainment, and a sundowner followed by buffet seafood dinner. We’ll have a DJ and open bar for dancing under the stars. Returning to the hotel by midnight.

Overnight: Ravintsara Wellness     B, D

 

June 18 – Flight from Nosy-Be  to Antananarivo

 After breakfast and a last swim in the turquoise waters, transfer to the airport to fly from Nosy-Be to Antananarivo.  Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel. Our schedule depends on flights which are still being arranged, but lunch and dinner  are both included.

Overnight: Palissandre Hotel (1 night)   B, L, D

June 19 – Short City Tour and Farewell

After breakfast, we take a short, guided walk to the upper town, to discover the old town full of history and many narrow streets. We’ll learn the rich history as we explore the area around the Queen’s Palace.  In the afternoon, we make our way to the airport for our flights home.   *** The program of the day will depend on the flight schedule.

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Deposit and Price

Land Price $2895 + $680 internal flights (estimated). Plus gratuities of $90 added to invoice for your convenience. ( Our cost was given in South African rand and based on that exchange. If there is a more than 10% fluctuation our price may need to be adjusted accordingly.)

Deposit $500

Based upon 18 participants.  Price is based on per person twin share and quoted in euros so we will be mindful of any currency fluctuations should they exceed 10%. Single supplement is $1095 limited to two.

Included:

  • English-speaking guide throughout the tour (two when in Tana, during the round trip to Andasibe and one in Nosy Be)
  • All transportation throughout. Group will be split in half within two buses.
  • The accommodation as indicated
  • The meals as indicated (full board from days 2 to 8)
  • Welcome dinner and farewell dinner
  • Entrances to parks and indicated sites
  • The local and park guides
  • Excursion to Nosy Komba and Tanikely on catamaran (private excursion)

Not included:

  • International Air
  • All optional activities and during the day at leisure in Nosy Be
  • Visa fee is +/- 35 €

Domestic flights are not in the airline system yet on Air Madagascar. We are awaiting a group quote from airline

 

                      From the movie Madagascar 

 

Trip Tips coming soon…